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Perioperative Bowel Habits of Women Undergoing Gynecologic Surgery: A Pilot Study

Tarr, Megan E. MD, MS; Klenov, Violet BS; Tanzy, Margaret E. MD; Rivard, Colleen L. MD; McElhinney, Margaret M. MD; Brubaker, Linda MD, MS; Mueller, Elizabeth R. MD; FitzGerald, Mary P. MD; Kenton, Kimberly MD, MS

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery:
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0b013e3182517fd8
Original Articles

Objectives: To describe perioperative bowel habits of women undergoing gynecologic surgery.

Methods: This prospective cohort study included women undergoing gynecologic surgery. Before surgery, participants completed the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS), a validated instrument describing stool characteristics consistent with transit categories: slow (BSFS 1–2), normal (BSFS 3–5), and fast (BSFS 6–7). For 2 weeks after surgery, the participants recorded daily medications and bowel movements (BM), and completed BSFS. The χ2 test, the Fisher exact test, analysis of variance, t tests, and ordinal regression were used.

Results: Preoperatively, most (70%) of 340 women had normal stool transit, with 15% having slow transit and 7% having fast transit. Complete postoperative data were available for 170 (50%). Mean ± SD time to first postoperative BM was 2.8 ± 1.4 days with transit classification: 48% normal, 32% slow, and 20% fast.

Conclusions: Most women had normal stool transit both preoperatively and postoperatively. Time to first BM was longer after open surgery by approximately 3 days.

In Brief

The majority of women undergoing gynecologic surgeries for a variety of indications reported normal bowel transit in the immediate pre- and postoperative periods.

Author Information

From the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Departments of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Urology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Reprints: Megan E. Tarr, MD, MS, Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave, A-81, Cleveland, OH 44195. E-mail:

Sources of Funding: ME Tarr: Intuitive Surgical, Inc., research funding, paid travel expenses. ER Mueller: Allergan, research funding; Laborie, development of educational presentations. MP FitzGerald: UpToDate, paid royalties. For the remaining authors, none were declared.

There was no source of funding for this project.

© 2012 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins